毕竟, 究竟, 到底, 终究, and 总归 - these words mean "after all" in Chinese. For example,


However, I wonder whether there is any difference between these words. According to the question and answers here, you can get to know the difference between 究竟 and 到底, but how about the other words?

For example, can I just replace the 毕竟 with one of the other words it the example sentence?

  • "汉语虚词词典" 毕竟 (副词):A 指出最关键之点:after all, in the final analysis, when all is said and done; points out the crucial point of the matter:1。但想来想去,~自己的人马太少,不敢冒失。(姚雪垠[李自成])2。谜~是谜,总有一天要揭个水落石出。(郭先红[征途])3。可是,她又~是个副教授,是个习惯于静地思考、严密地观察事物的人。(张扬[第二次握手])4。我很想详细地知道这故事,但阿长是不知道的,因为她不渊博。(鲁迅[从百草园到三味书屋])B 终于,最后,多用于书面语:after all, in the end; is mainly used in written language;1。天~是晴和了,人们从蜇伏了三十多天的阴郁的屋子里爬出来。(叶紫[丰收])2。可是~知道了我们的情况,追得越来越紧了。(曹舟辉[抗日前奏])3。并且七爷~怎么样了,我也惦记得很,你一去就可以想法子跟他见见了。(奏瘦鸥[秋海棠]) 究竟 (副词)A 同"到底"C,用于正反、选择、用疑问词的疑问句,表示进一步追究,有加强语气的作用:same as 到底 C; used in an affirmative-negative or affirmative question, – user6065 Jan 14 '18 at 20:52
  • or a question with an interrogative pronoun, as an emphatic word implying a determination to get to the bottom of things:1。这可不是个小事。你~有把握没有啊!(李准[耕云记])2。他~准备学英语还是日语?3。你~渡过河了没有?(峻青[黎明的河边])4。你的意思,忽而软,忽而硬,~是什么回事?(曹禺[雷雨])5。我低声问老靳,老姜头~是个什么人。(马烽[我的第一个上级])B 同"毕竟"A (see above);used in a declarative sentence to point out the essentials:1。虽然做了一辈子买卖~是个山东人,心直气壮。(老舍[正红旗下])2。女婿虽好,~是外姓,他有时想:自己要有这么一个可心的儿子就好了。(蔡天心[初春的日子])3。在目下这钱世界里,如此大方的人~是少的。(朱自清[生命的价格___七毛钱])4。我只想看看他,他~是我生的孩子。(曹禺[雷雨])5。住在王晓燕家,晓燕和她的父母对她虽然很好,然而,这~不是长久之地。(杨沫[青春之歌]) 到底 (副词)A 指出最后的情况如何:in the end, finally, at last:1。一百多年来无数先烈所怀抱的宏大志愿,一定要由我们这一代 – user6065 Jan 14 '18 at 20:57
  • 人去实现,谁要阻止,~是阻止不了的。(毛泽东[论联合政府])2。~是女儿说服了娘,包起那件衣服,拿到集上去。(孙犁[白洋淀记事])3。这一次他觉得~还是他有点主张。(王统照[山雨])4。严厉苛刻的考试~难倒小梁,三门考试全都及格!(报)B 表示即使不充分符合某条件某类型,还是可以认为具备这条件,属于这类型,可用于主语前:indicates that although sth.is not fully up to a given standard or does not completely fit a certain type, it may nonetheless be acceptable.到底 may precede the subject:1。这话~有些厉害,那孩子一听,就更慌了。(茹志鹃[鱼圩边])2。我爸爸~差点事,一辈子混的并不怎样。(老舍[茶馆])3。~这里离城不远,离上海也只一百多里呢。(叶圣陶[倪焕之])4。他虽然不小了,可~是个孩子,想得不能那么周到。C 用在问句(或有疑问词的非疑问句)中,表示追究,要求确定答复;可用在主语前: used in an interrogative sentence (or a non-interrogative sentence with an interrogative pronoun)to indicate an – user6065 Jan 14 '18 at 21:01
  • attempt to get a definite answer,到底 may precede the subject: 1。~咱们想打痛快仗不想?(老舍[神拳])2。咱们~要干什么?干到几时为止?(老舍[神拳])3。今儿~为什么这么不舒服?(马烽,西戎[吕梁英雄传])4。他们三个人停脚步,想认真划一下这个便桥~怎么搭法。(冉准舟[建设者])5。他心想到街上去看一看,看儿子~在谁家。(蔡天心[初春的日子])参看"究竟"A。 – user6065 Jan 14 '18 at 21:01
  • 终归 (副词)A指出最后的必然;多用于未然:eventually, in the end; often applies to unfulfilled events;1。这时他心头充满了快乐,就是走十里路、百里路又怕什么呢,反正他~要走到幸福那儿去的。(草明[爱情])2。也许会推迟一点,但她~会回来的!(张扬[第二次握手])3。她知道他~是会带上她,双双离开使人发霉的家乡。(王汶石[黑风])4。不过话又说回来了,到了~要死,死就要死在正处。(杨朔[三千里江山])5。那些最大恶极的人民的敌人~不会逍遥法外的。B 指出事物的最本质之点:indicates the most essential aspect of sth.:1。你不用瞒我,我也不是没长眼睛。是不是为小朱?你~年轻,还得锻炼哪!(杨朔[三千里江山])2。孩子~是孩子啊!(张有德[晨])参看"终究""总归'。compare 终究,总归。 终究 (副词)同"终归"same as 终归 (see above) 总归 (副词)A 同"终归"A(eventually, in the end) B同 "终归"B – user6065 Jan 15 '18 at 17:48

Interesting, all of them can be translated as "After all". That shows how general the term "After all" can be.

毕 = finish; end

竟 = state; situation

毕竟 = situation in the end = After all; In the end

e.g. "毕竟你是我的朋友, 我不会要你支付租金的" (In the end/ After all, you are my friend, I will not ask you to pay rent)


究 = trace back ; exam the reason

竟 = state; situation

究竟 = exam the reason for a state to exist = Exactly / After all

e.g. "你要我付租金, 究竟我们是不是朋友? "(You want me to pay rent, are we friends or not exactly/ after all?)


到 = to

底 = bottom ; end

到底 = In the end; after all

"你要我付租金, 到底我们是不是我朋友? "(You want me to pay rent, are we friends or not in the end/ after all?)


终= end

究 = trace back ; exam the reason

终究 = exam the reason for thing end up at this state = Eventually/ After all

e.g. "你终究是我的朋友, 我不会要你支付租金的" (You, in the end/ after all, are my friend, I will not ask you to pay rent)

e.g. "不管我们是不是朋友,租金终究是要付的" (No matter we are friends or not, rent needed to be paid eventually / after all)


终 = sum up/ end

归 = end up

终归= in the end; eventually = After all

e.g. "你终归是我的朋友, 我不会要你支付租金的" (You, in the end/ after all, are my friend, I will not ask you to pay rent)

e.g. "不管我们是不是朋友,租金终归是要付的" (No matter we are friends or not, rent needed to be paid eventually / after all)

总归(sum up in the end)= 终归

  • "in the end" instead of "at the end"? – user6065 Jan 14 '18 at 6:06
  • oh, yes, "in the end" – Tang Ho Jan 14 '18 at 6:08

The only real answer to this is reading a stack of Chinese texts and picking it up by osmosis. It's a gut-feel thing. But there are at least two cheats you can use to build intuition fast. Check out the raw frequency on google ngram viewer (to look at all your terms at once, make sure you're typing English commas as separators not Chinese ones). Two interesting things there: 终究 and 终归 are dramatically rarer than the other three, so they're probably formal or jargon-y. Worth avoiding unless you have extra special motivation. Also 到底 spikes massively from the 60's to the 80's. Sometimes google ngrams spike for no reason at all, or butterflies-flapping-their-wings-in-brazil reasons, but also, things that spike like that over that time period are often anti-pretentious earthy language of the 老百姓. (See also 革命,前进, and the spectacular crash in the frequency of 之... these can't all be brazil butterflies, right?) A better way is to check out usage-in-context, ichacha.net has a good collection of these, there are plenty of other good sources. From their example lists you can see things like the way 究竟 appears very often in rhetorical questions, where 毕竟 is much more associated with statements. "You're my mistress, not my wife" feels very different from "However did you get here without a car?", although they're both sort of in the "after all" zone, the first is much more typical of 毕竟 and the second is much more typical of 究竟. Check out the full lists on ichacha and see for yourself!


No, they are different type of words, can not be replaced by each other.

毕竟 after all

究竟 indeed,

到底 finally

终究 at the end

总归 above all


所以, 这些词究竟有什么区别呢? 我解释不清楚, 毕竟我英文不咋地, 不过, 随着你阅读量的增加, 你终究还是会明白的, 总归就是熟能生巧而已, 我这样的答案到底行不行呢?


Some of them are synonyms. Refer to below:

毕竟: after all;

究竟, 到底: on earth

终究, 总归: eventually

In this case, if you replace with other words, the meaning would change or it doesn't make sense.

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